Darren Edmondson on Gavin Skelton and Dave WilkesAcademy Manager Darren Edmondson spoke to us about this week’s appointment of Gavin Skelton as the club’s Professional Development Phase Coach.
He said: “I think this is a great signing for the Academy. He’s someone who came through the youth system at this club and that gives him an insight into how it runs. He knows the importance of finding young talent for this football club.
“He understands the ethos of the place and he knows us inside out. He’s also a professional in his personal approach as well as on the football field. I’ve worked with him before, and I’ve watched him work since then, and I’m delighted with the appointment.”
“When it comes to experience he’s done the full cycle of coaching,” he added. “He’s been a first team manager, he’s done under-18 work and under-16 work, so he’s covered a broad spectrum. Definitely that experience of being a first team manager will help me with the day-to-day education of our players.
“The decision by Queen of the South to remove Gav from their post became a bonus for us. I’ve been speaking to him for quite a while about this job and then it was a case of putting together an application and interview process to see what else was out there.
“Make no mistake, there were some really good and strong candidates, so he had to prove himself, but the attributes we’ve already spoken about swung it in his favour in the end. Even though we’re stuck out on a limb geographically there are always strong candidates who apply.
“Once we realised he was keen to come it was then down to him to, because we all know what a professional gentleman and good coach he is. He does know the club extremely well because of his background, he has the place close to his heart and he ticks a lot of boxes.
“We had a good meeting with the manager about the situation and he also saw the plus points that Gav will bring to the post. I think we all agreed this is a win-win for the club and for the players of the future, who will have a very good person to learn from.”
Regular youth team watchers will have noticed that the new coach attended all of the under-18 home fixtures through April as he started the process of getting to know the individuals he’ll be working with next season.
“That’s an indication of just how much Gav wants to put into the job,” Edmondson said. “He’s seen quite a lot of the lads over the last few weeks so he already has a good understanding of what he’ll be working with.
“He wants to hit the ground running and I know everybody will respect that. As I say, it’s great to have him on board and I’m really looking forward to working with him.”
Part of the ongoing Academy restructure also includes a move up to the Head of Academy Coaching position for long-standing club servant Dave Wilkes.
“From the point of view of the EPPP, there’s a lot of stick about it and about some of the levels of paperwork, but the Head of Academy Coaching role is one that a club like ours can benefit from,” the Academy boss said. “We have some great people in the Academy doing good things on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturday mornings and Sundays ,and they give up a lot of their own time.
“Sometimes they need further educating and more help, because there are always certain elements of all coaches and how they coach which can be improved. Some of the coaches we have here brought Gav Skelton, Matt Jansen and others like it through, and they’ve been here a long time, so their ability and experience will never be in question.
“We’ve signed six Cumbrians as first years this year and these coaches have developed them since they were nine or ten years old. The Academy is strong now, whatever happened in the past happened, and we’re starting to get some momentum going again. The staff we have need to be thanked for that, but I know they’ll appreciate the knowledge and input Dave will bring to this new role.”
“The EPPP is a great system but it brings hard work with it,” he concluded. “You have to keep on top of your paperwork and audit trails completely or you come unstuck.
“I’ve likened it to teaching because the checks you get, and our next one is next year, will be thorough. We can’t leave stones unturned and we have to make sure that our systems are watertight. The structure we’re putting in place now is going to help us with all of that.”